Prudent Avoidance or Prudent Choices?

July 30th, 2006

To the Editor,

The relegation of ordinances for public safety decisions to ‘local control’ is only ‘prudent’ when the correct questions are being posed and qualified persons are weighing the answers. However, one does not ask the local pesticide applicator to answer the question of, “What measures should we take to control roadside weeds or grubs in the park?” Why, you may ask? Simply because the applicator’s license does not require intensive study of either the chemicals or their effects upon bystanders. Here in the U.S., a week of study prior to being issued a ‘license to kill’ something (be it weeds or bugs) has not ensured anyone, including the applicator, is safe. It is against federal US law to claim that pesticides are safe, even when used as directed.

Prudent choices are made by posing prudent questions.

1. What is the precise need to be filled? Answer: Roadside spraying does not exist for the purpose of weed eradication since no species, domestic or foreign, will be removed from the region through limited applications to roadsides. Driver safety is not in question since visibility, impaired by overgrowth, is guaranteed simply by mowing. So we are left with the question of road maintenance in which the roots of weeds may inflitrate pavement and weaken it.

2. What are the full range of choices? Answer: What measures for control over this slow process of road erosion by growth are suitable without compromising the health of every person walking/living along a road? Or tooling down a turnpike with a window open, Grandma in the front seat and a baby nestled in in the back carseat? Road integrity can be maintained with basic vinegar and salt solutions just prior to and during growing seasons. Annual inspections to determine if any repairs are needed to shore up a weakening spot in the road itself are also routine from the effects of climate and use wear and tear. Repairs automatically take care of any marginal damage from growth when the major causes of erosion are being addressed.

Pesticides and herbicides are petrochemical heavy (delivery solvents) benefitting Middle East despots while vinegar sales benefit local grain farmers. The harsher chemicals become embedded in soil and persist for years, contributing to contamination of the water table. If they were effective, re-applications would not be necessary throughout the growing season. Why not use the safer methods then to meet the need without paying the price to the public health?

Some persons know they are being adversely affected by pesticides and herbicides immediately. The respiratory, digestive tract and neurological effects of these chemicals are well known and written on the label. However, very few know their protective biochemical mechanisms and central nervous systems are all placed under high stress after exposure. Another assault at work, school or home (say, by that visit from an exterminator or use of cleaning solvents etc.) can easily tip the scales for all into that sinus or bronchial infection, reflux or migraine, not to mention a short term memory impairment that has 30 year olds around the world experiencing ‘senior moments’. Autoimmune disease and cancers have also been correlated with chemical week controls. Dr. Kaye Kilburn (‘Endangered Brains’) at the University of California Keck School of Medicine can tell you the majority, and not the minority, of persons are being harmed by the background noise made by these unconscious choices.

You can choose safety over risks in your own home but not outdoors unless ‘prudent avoidance’ is replaced by ‘prudent problem solving’. Understand the questions and the sensible answers crop up almost immediately. Roadside spraying is not a life or death question…unless you skip the thought process entirely and go for the quick fix. And consider that the ‘quick fix’ is ‘suggested’ by the recipients of the quick profits – vendors who don’t care past the point when the sale is made. Don’t worry, you won’t be depriving some executive of a new Mercedes next year – he can make the executive decision to profit from the sales of vinegar as the newest answer to roadside maintenance while reducing taxpayer contributions to medical costs at the same time. Prudent indeed.

Barbara Rubin
Former educator, disabled by pesticide poisoning

Categories: Ind. Free Press

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